Third Year Law Student’s Oral Argument Garners a New Sentence For Client Before the Sixth Circuit
Kellie Kulka’s oral argument at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals brings a win for the Sixth Circuit Clinic and a published opinion—all before graduation.
Cincinnati, OH—Kellie Kulka ’16 had an opportunity only a small number of law students get – to argue a case before a federal appellate court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. What happened her first time up? The court ruled in her client’s favor, reversing the sentence!
“This is a big win,” said Kulka. “I’m just shocked that they issued an opinion so quickly.”
The case, United States v. Fowler, involved a Detroit doctor who was convicted of healthcare fraud. The law school’s Sixth Circuit Clinic, which introduces students to the basics of appellate advocacy, took the case on appeal. Last year’s clinic participants wrote the initial brief; this year’s group did additional research and brought the case to argument.
Clinic director Colter Paulson, Senior Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, explained: “Kellie took oral argument preparation, and her representation of the client, very seriously and spent the better part of two months working on and preparing for the argument. ” This was in addition to her regular clinic assignments and academic work.
“When I walked through security at Potter Stewart Court House, I was asked if I was there to argue a case, to which I responded "yes I am,” said Kulka. “That's when the experience became very real to me, that this wasn't just at Moot Court competition, but that I was actually advocating for someone. I spent months reading trial transcripts and the briefing by the parties. I was actually dreaming about the case by March. However, it was not until I told them that I was there to argue, that I was able to take real ownership the case.
“Kellie’s preparation paid off. In fact, she did such an excellent job during oral argument that the federal public defender in a companion case ceded his reply time to her so she could drive our points home before the panel,” said Paulson.
“I argued in the En Banc Courtroom. I had been in that room before to observe, but actually learning that I would argue in that room was surreal,” Kulka remarked. “I was nervous initially, but once I began to present the case, the adrenaline kicked in and I rode that thrill for the remainder of my time.”
The clinic team won a reversal of the doctor’s sentence because the court failed to make factual findings to support it. And Paulson and the team feel that they should be able to substantially reduce the client’s sentence on remand, based on some of the language written in the decision about the extent of the fraud.
“But we also won a larger victory,” noted Paulson. “Lots of sentencing arguments like this are losers because of waiver before the trial court, but we argued that the right to factual findings could not be waived. There were no cases in any circuit saying so, but we got the panel to agree that even if the trial attorney waived the argument, ‘the district court was still under an obligation to make factual findings regarding the applicable Guidelines range.’ This is decision requires district courts to make factual findings to support sentences rather than (as is often the case) just hand-waiving to create a Guideline sentence.”
Congratulations to Kellie Kulka, the Sixth Circuit participants, and clinic co-directors Paulson and Lauren Kuley, Associate at Squire Patton Boggs, on their successful win.
Former Dean Victor Schwartz Publishes WSJ Editorial on Federal Legislation and Liability of Gun Manufacturers
Remarks from Victor Schwartz: In the Presidential campaign an issue has been raised about federal legislation and the liability of gun manufacturers. A lot of misinformation about that topic has come forward from a variety of sources. Since I have been involved with most federal liability bills over the past three decades, I thought it might be helpful to clarify just what the federal legislation on gun manufacturer liability titled, “The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" actually does in fact. On March 2, 2016 the Wall Street Journal ran Mr. Schwartz’s op-ed on the topic.
Professor Tim Armstrong’s book review accepted for publication
Professor Tim Armstrong’s book review titled Two Comparative Perspectives on Copyright's Past and Future in the Digital Age has been accepted for publication in the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law. The essay critically evaluates two recent high-profile titles on digital copyright law: The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle by Peter Baldwin (Princeton, 2014) and Copyfight: The Global Politics of Digital Copyright Reform by Blayne Haggart (Univ. of Toronto, 2014).
Professor Michael Solimine co-authored an amicus curiae brief filed in Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S. Ct. 450 (2015)
Professor Michael Solimine co-authored an amicus curiae brief filed in Shapiro v. McManus, 136 S. Ct. 450 (2015), arguing that the lower court decision should be reversed. The case concerned the powers of a single district judge in deciding whether to convene a three-judge district court. In December, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case in a unanimous decision agreeing with the argument asserted in the amicus curiae brief.
Professor A. Christopher Bryant judged the state finals of the high school We The People Competition
Professor A. Christopher Bryant judged the state finals of the high school We The People Competition on January 22, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio at the Statehouse. See more here. We The People is a national, civic education program that originated with the Burger commission on the Bi-centennial of the Constitution.
Professor A. Christopher Bryant made two panel presentations at the AALS Annual Meeting
Professor A. Christopher Bryant made two panel presentations at the AALS Annual Meeting in New York City. On January 8, 2016, he presented "Constitutional Law from the Ground Up: How the Prohibition on 'Under-ruling' Distorts the Judicial Function" at the Federalist Society's works-in-progress session. On January 9, 2016, he spoke at the Law & Interpretation Section's panel addressing "The Empirics of Legal Interpretation."
Duane Morris partner Kevin E. Vance elected Interim Chairman of Sunrise Community, Inc. Board
Miami Attorney to Lead Board of Directors of National Non-Profit Organization Serving Individuals with Disabilities
Miami, Fla. (March 21, 2016) – Duane Morris is pleased to announce that Kevin E. Vance, a partner in the Miami office, has been elected Interim Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sunrise Community, Inc., a national leader in providing residential and habilitation services for people with a wide range of intellectual and physical disabilities. Vance joined the organization’s Board in 2014.
For over 45 years, by means of advocacy and education directed toward acceptance, Sunrise has provided its individualized support and services to enable people with disabilities to live valued lives in the community. The Miami-based organization offers a growing range of services, including group home facilities, in-home support, residential habilitation services, respite care, supported employment, adult training, and transportation services, among others. At the heart of its mission are its residential group home facilities, which provide safe, comfortable, family-style caring homes anchored in the community. Currently, the organization has 214 residential group homes serving more than 1,000 individuals.
“I am honored to be elected chairman of such a remarkable organization that is devoted to strengthening communities and ensuring people with disabilities become full participants in community life,” said Vance. “I look forward to working alongside the Board to further the organization’s mission and continue to impact the lives of so many deserving individuals.”
A Florida Bar board-certified attorney, Vance focuses his practice on labor and employment litigation and other types of business litigation. Vance is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. He earned his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, and his B. A. from Vanderbilt University. In addition to his Board position with Sunrise, Vance is the Vice Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Human Resources and Workforce Development Committee.
About Duane Morris
Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 750 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today's legal and business challenges. In addition, Duane Morris affiliates have approximately 100 professionals engaged in ancillary service businesses.
Karen Kovach '92 Named UC's Interim General Counsel
Cincinnati Law graduate Karen Kovach has been named Interim General Counsel for the University of Cincinnati, effective April 1, 2016. She currently serves as UC's Deputy General Counsel.
With more than 23-and-a-half years of experience as an attorney, the last three of those years spent at the university, Ms. Kovach is familiar with the many aspects and issues affecting universities in the legal arena. In her interim role, she will serve as the key point of contact related to legal issues at the university.
US News Ranking Positions Cincinnati Law Within Top 50 Public Law Schools in the Nation
Cincinnati Law’s significant increase in employment and high bar passage earns results in its ranking among the top 50 public law schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Cincinnati, OH —The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Cincinnati Law #60 in the nation, up 22 places from last year.
Jennifer S. Bard, Dean and Nippert Professor of Law, remarked “We are very pleased by all the external recognition we received this year for producing meaningful outcomes. This includes specific programs such as our clinics, centers and other community collaborations. The U.S. News & World Report ranking reflects our high employment and bar passage rates as well as increased score in peer assessment. It is well deserved and due to the hard work of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.”
Mina Jones Jefferson, Senior Assistant Dean and Director of the Center for Professional Development, elaborated on last year’s 13 percent increase in employment. “For the Class of 2014, 88 percent found employment within 10 months of graduation, a placement above both state and national averages and we are on target to do just as well with the Class of 2015.”
Dean Bard further stated “These outcomes, combined with the high quality legal education our faculty and staff offers students, the strength of our first class research university, and the success and commitment of our wonderful alumni explain why Cincinnati Law is consistently recognized as an ‘A’ level ‘Best Value’ law school.”
The U.S. News ranking follows recent recognition by several similar publications that have assessed the strong Cincinnati Law program:
- 3rd in the Nation for Prosecutor and Public Defender Careers. (preLaw magazine, Winter edition)
- Among the Top 20 Schools for Law Students Interested in Prosecutorial/Public Defender Work. (National Jurist magazine)
- Top 30 School for Super Lawyers. The college, which came in at 28* in the nation, had 13.1 percent of its alumni being considered a Super Lawyer. (*The National Jurist Fall 2015 edition).
- 40th in the Nation and 10th in the Midwest for JD-Required Positions. (ChicagoINNO)
- Among the top 50 Law Schools in the Country for Sending Graduates to the top 250 Law Firms. (National Law Journal)
- Top School for Practical Training. Named to the 2016 honor roll for “Best School for Practical Training” (National Jurist magazine). Ranked a top law school for practical training (National Jurist magazine, 2015 and 2014)
- Best Value Law School Ranking. Named a Best Value Law School for the third year and second consecutive year, respectively. (National Jurist and preLaw magazines)
Cincinnati Law Named to Honor Roll for “Best School for Practical Training”
Cincinnati, OH—Cincinnati Law has just been named to the National Jurist magazine honor roll for “Best School for Practical Training.” The annual list highlights law schools that have strong clinic, externship and simulation offerings for its students. The law school is one of 56 schools named to the list.
“This latest recognition of our ‘learn by doing curriculum’ and our unique ‘Complete Professional Program’ provides even more support for our earlier designation as a "best value" law school,” said Cincinnati Law Dean Jennifer S. Bard. “Students at Cincy Law get all the benefits of our highly talented faculty and extensive externship opportunities while enjoying the low cost, high quality amenities of a city recently recognized as a prime destination for young professionals."
The official ranking and grades of each law school will be announced in the Spring issue of National Jurist and preLaw magazines.